Most people regard allergic reactions as the typical presentation of asthma attacks, fits of sneezing and nasal congestion, runny or puffy eyes or skin rashes. There are, however, many other ways in which allergens can physically manifest themselves.
- Persistent headaches
- Hot or cold shivers but without any physical change in body temperature
- Flushed cheeks and shining eyes
- Sudden, unexplained irritability
- Digestive upsets – either excess stomach acid, stomach ache or diarrhoea
- Skin sensations such as itching or prickling, without any signs of a rash
- A strange sensation in the throat, like tickling or burning
- Burning or irritation of the lips
If your child suffers from any of the above symptoms, contact your GP to eliminate any illness or physical problem – particularly in the case of headaches, which could just be a vision problem. If a thorough medical examination does not reveal any such problem and your GP is at a loss to know what to suggest, other than pain relief medication, your child may be atopic (prone to allergic conditions).
There are physical signs you can look for, that may confirm your diagnosis.
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This is the name given to obvious dark circles under the eyes. Parents often put the appearance of these down to the child not getting enough sleep, but they are more likely to be due to increased blood flow near to the sinuses, caused by an allergic response to something.
Eye Bags or Folds
An extra skin fold or line underneath the eye is called a Denni-Morgan line and is named after the doctor who first discovered the relationship between this line and allergies in children. Similarly, any noticeable bags under the eyes are caused by congested sinuses, which have become inflamed. Now this can happen when a child has a particularly nasty cold but if your child displays bags under the eyes without any viral reason, then the chances are the inflammation is due to an allergic response.
Line Across the Middle of the Nose
An allergic child whose nose perpetually itches (but the itching may not cause sneezing) will frequently rub their nose upwards with the flat of their hand causing, after a time, a permanent crease across the nose, frequent throat clearing or hoarseness.
Extra mucus forming in the throat
If your child is displaying signs of this after, say, playing outside during the pollen season or after eating a particular food, it is almost certainly an allergic response. If left unchecked, this may develop into asthma.
Constant Pulling at their Ear
If there are no indications that an infection is present (fever, pain, discharge) and your child is too young to explain why he/she keeps pulling their ear, it may be that the sensation inside the ear is itchiness, rather than pain. This could be a sign that there is a response in the ear, nose and throat that is caused by an allergy.
Cold and Clammy Feet
Many allergists say that the feet are the best indication of whether the liver can cope with various toxins in the body. They have found that children whose feet are perpetually cold and clammy are often presenting a hidden allergy that is causing their body to struggle with its effects.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Has Hidden Allergies
After you have satisfied yourself that there is no medical reason for the response, and only after your child has been thoroughly examined and been given the all clear, then try a couple of days of dosage with antihistamine syrup to see if there is any change in your child. Most syrups can be taken from the age of 12 months.
In the case of an Infant Who Is breastfeeding, allergists recommend that the mother looks to her diet to see what might be causing the problems with her baby. They state that, if the allergy in an infant is caused by a factor outside of diet, such as pollen, then the mother can take the antihistamine syrup and small amounts will pass through into her breast milk, giving the baby some relief. However, check with your health professional before taking this step.
With children who are Weaned On To Solid Foods and older children, it is then a case of identifying the allergens that cause the most problems. Dust mites, animal hair, pollens, traffic pollution and second-hand cigarette smoke are the most common environmental allergens. If your child is prone to rashes and skin irritations, then look to washing powders, fabric conditioners, perfumed soaps and even baby toiletries. The final allergens to tackle are food. Wheat, dairy products and citrus fruit are the most common problems for younger children. Older children may find that nuts, shellfish, fish, strawberries and coloured sweets affect them. It is really a case of trial and error.